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Seattle Mariners: The Pieces Are in Place to Make a Serious Playoff Run

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 18:  Closing pitcher Brandon League #43 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with catcher Miguel Olivo #30 after defeating the Cleveland Indians 4-1 at Safeco Field on April 18, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Micah ChenAnalyst IIIApril 19, 2012

It's been a while since we've had the opportunity to say Mariners and playoffs in the same sentence.  But now is a good time to start.

The Mariners are off to an awkward start this year, yes they are 7-6, but you can't really call them a dark horse yet.  Especially playing in the same division as the Texas Rangers, one of the hottest teams in baseball.

You look up and down this roster, and you can't really say this team has a real strength, but on the flip side, this team doesn't have a weakness either.

The starting pitching is solid, Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi, Blake Beaven and Kevin Milwood have all proven they can carry the team.  And while none of them have been dominant, they get the job done for the most part.

The bullpen is in great shape, thanks to the starting pitchers ability to go deep into ballgames.  Wilhelmsen pitching the eighth and Brandon League pitching in the ninth is a great 1-2 punch that has proven effective so far this year. 

The lineup, like the rotation, doesn't feature any dominant sluggers, but unlike past years, there's not sure outs in the lineup anymore.

There's no more Ronny Cedeno's, there's no more Jack Wilson's, and there's no more Eric Byrnes.

Figgins, Ichiro, Ackley, Smoak, Seager, Montero, Saunders, Olivo and Brendan Ryan all have shown they can get the big hit.

I'm not saying this Mariners lineup is dominant, but it doesn't have to be.

The Mariners rotation has a team ERA of 3.83, but that is bloated because of the occasional offensive burst by opponents.  The rotation is going to be very consistent this year.

In these days, a 3.50 ERA pitching staff and an average lineup can get you far.

If the Mariners want to win the A.L. West, it's going to take an error-free season.  Goin toe to toe with Texas isn't going to be easy.

That 9-8 loss to Cleveland Tuesday night isn't going to fly, playoff teams don't blow 8-1 leads.

I know it's been said a million times before, but the Mariners need to take it one game at a time, don't look at the bigger picture.  Beat teams you're supposed to beat, and go 50/50 against teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.

I know it sounds crazy to be talking about the Mariners potentially making a playoff push whether it'd be for the division lead or wild card, but it's not impossible.

Impossible is the key word; teams like Oakland, Kansas City, San Diego, Minnesota, Baltimore, Colorado, etc., it's simply not going to happen.

The Mariners are right in the thick of things though.  If they play up to their potential, they have as good of a shot as anybody.

Especially playing in the weak A.L. West, where, in my opinion, they are the No. 2 team behind Texas.  Los Angeles hasn't proven anything to me yet despite all the talent they signed.

We can all dream right?

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